One of the most defining eras in the history of Marvel’s Mightiest Mutants is captured in the release of the digest edition of THE UNCANNY X-MEN TRADING CARDS celebrating the 30th anniversary of creative master Jim Lee’s run on the title.
By the early 1990s, comic book collecting was at a fever pitch! Fans that had for most of their childhoods and into their adolescence followed the fabled tales printed in both DC and Marvel Comics, were now feeling the most validated about a medium that had meant so much and had often inspired them in unimaginable ways. Comic book characters were big in all mediums. Tim Burton’s Batman was a blockbuster on the big screen and the Caped Crusader on the New York Times Best Sellers List thanks to Frank Miller’s ground-breaking graphic novel.
Comic books were being taken much more seriously. With their likeness transcending in popularity beyond just the page, audiences enthusiastically searched for additional avenues to feed their fandom. Trading Cards were a mainstay in the field of collecting, although most often focused on the world of sports with baseball cards becoming some of the most sought-after items on the collectible market. Sometimes you’d find other imprints finding their way into the card market, including motion pictures — among the most popular were the Star Wars film franchises’ trading cards.
It wasn’t long before the marriage of comic books and trading cards emerged. Many of the summer’s annual “event” books were sometimes sealed and included exclusive one-of-a-kind trading cards. Unlike their predecessors which were usually printed on brown cardboard, these next-gen offerings were on a sturdier white back with full color that felt really prestige. One of the most popular releases came in 1992 and put the spotlight on the Marvel Comics universe's most popular brands. The Uncanny X-Men was always a top-selling book at Marvel, but by 1990 it was more than just one of the publishing imprint's most time-honored titles, it was its own phenomenon!
In 1990 Marvel had begun a partnership with trading card company Impel (who would eventually become a Marvel acquisition and changed its name to SkyBox) and would commission a rising star named Jim Lee to illustrate a special run of trading cards that were focused on The Uncanny X-Men. Lee had become a huge star for his incredibly detailed dynamic penciling and spectacular layouts that capitalized on the spirit of the 90s in graphic comic entertainment. Along with superstar writer Chris Claremont, Jim Lee co-wrote and introduced the best-selling comic book of 1991, X-Men #1.
With Jim Lee onboard, the trading card phenomenon was about to achieve an entirely new level! Both of Impel’s Marvel Universe series of trading cards were a hit, and without hesitation, the company aligned itself with Marvel’s editors and teams of creators to provide fans with an entirely new collectible experience. Jim Lee had distinguished himself among the most popular artists at the time and his work on X-Men had bolstered the already best-selling franchise when he was recruited to design the newest trading card line that would be centered on the mutants, Lee brought it!
Each of the cards is an original work of art penciled by Jim Lee and completed by Paul Mounts, to specifically work inside of the guidelines best suited to the format of a trading card. The card has a beautifully crafted action pic on the front, detailed back stats, quick character background and power ratings, and an “X-Tra Fact” from the comics. The series was broken up into Heroes, Villains, Teams, and Supporting Cast. The Complete Series is presented in this exciting digest edition which also includes commentary from the creators.
The digest edition is a snapshot of one of the most popular eras in The Uncanny X-Men and X-Men publishing history and captures the enigmatic talent of Jim Lee; his contribution to Marvel in the 1990s remains one of the most influential of his career.
THE UNCANNY X-MEN TRADING CARDS: The Complete Series | published by Abrams ComicArts | $24.99 each | featuring the complete 1992 set illustrated by Jim Lee is available now in this 30th Anniversary digest-sized edition and can be purchased here abramscomicarts.com .